“I don’t rule with an iron fist but I do believe in allowing crewmembers to be given the space to show their abilities with few restrictions. I rely on both my chief officer and chief stewardess to recruit, as they should be in full control of their respective areas and, as such, are responsible for the high standards I demand,” Captain Bickley explains.
For most chief officers, being at the helm and actually driving the superyacht is a huge benefit of the job and a brilliant way to gain real, at-sea experience and drive time. “A lot of captains won’t let the chief officer even touch the controls, so for and up and coming chief officer that’s a huge attraction to the job. A lot of captains want the glory of driving into St Tropez, whereas my chief officer does a lot of the manouevring ,” Captain Bickley explains. “You see some captains who have got their Master ticket but have little or no vessel handling experience.”
“I negotiate [time off for training], depending on the value of the crewmember and the level of training being provided; you don’t just give it away, but at the same time it’s well worth it for the crew.”
It is important that on-board training is complemented by the support of off-the-boat training, whether this be time off or financially, and this is something the superyacht industry, and more owners, are starting to recognise. “I’m a big fan of on-board training and training budgets. The owner doesn’t get involved with the boat; I give him a budget every October and he says yes, that’s fine,” says Captain Bickley.
“Once loyalty has been shown we pay for all the training ashore. All the girls do the wine courses and interior-based training, and the deck crew do anything from jetskis through until the Master qualifications." Captain Bickley does not charge for the time crew need to take the courses – the time for training won’t come out of the crewmembers’ holidays. “I negotiate this, depending on the value of the crewmember and the level of training being provided; you don’t just give it away, but at the same time it’s well worth it for the crew.”